Number one for English language teachers

Your English: Phrasal verbs: slip

Type: Article

As it combines with so many prepositions, it's easy to slip up when using the verb slip. Tim Bowen helps you to effortlessly slip these phrasal verbs into conversations.

For a verb with a relatively restricted number of meanings, slip is used in a large number of phrasal verbs.

With the meaning of ‘go somewhere, especially quickly and quietly without anyone noticing you’, slip can combine with in, out, away, into, out of, through and past, as in ‘Several people managed to slip past the guards and get into the building’.

If something such as power or an opportunity slips away, you no longer have it, as in 'Support for the project was gradually slipping away'.

If time slips by, it passes quickly, as in 'The months and years slipped by and still I didn’t hear from him’.

An alcoholic drink that tastes good can slip down, as in ‘This wine slips down very nicely with a bowl of pasta’.

If you slip something into a conversation, you mention it quickly and in a way that is not too obvious, e.g. ‘That was a rather strange thing to slip into the conversation’.

If you reveal a secret without intending to, you can say that it slips out, as in ‘I know you asked me not to tell him but it just slipped out’.

You can slip clothes on and slip them off (put them on or take them off fairly quickly) and people wearing formal clothes often express their intention to ‘slip into something more comfortable’.

If things are not detected by a system that is designed to detect them or protect them, they can be said to slip through, as in ‘Thousands of the poorest families slip through the welfare net’.

Finally, if you slip up, you make a small, careless mistake, as in ‘This time be extra careful. We can’t afford to slip up again’.

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